Man arrested in random killing of Christmas tree farmer


File-This Nov. 30, 1999, file photo shows Jim Pearson of Beech Ridge Farm in Scarborough, Maine, pausing while driving his tractor across his 160 acre spread. Pearson was fatally stabbed in a random attack outside his home on Sunday, Dec.15, 2019. (Doug Jones/Portland Press Herald via AP)

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SCARBOROUGH, Maine (AP) — A man was arrested Tuesday in connection with the killing of a beloved Maine farmer that shook the community where he has been a fixture for decades, police said.

James Pearson, an 82-year-old retired teacher, was killed in the front yard of his Scarborough home Sunday morning in an attack that police have described as random. Maine State Police announced Tuesday they have charged 22-year-old Quinton Hanna, of Freeport, with murder in connection with Pearson’s killing.

There is no indication Hanna and Pearson knew each other, the Portland Press Herald reported. Pearson’s wife, Nancy, was home when the attack happened and tried to aid her husband while family members called 911. She and James founded their tree farming business in 1969.

Police said they previously took Hanna into custody Sunday and charged him with attempted murder following an attack on a woman in West Bath who he intentionally hit with a car. He also faces charges of elevated aggravated assault, unlawful sexual contact, criminal restraint, robbery, burglary and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon.

Hanna also allegedly sexually assaulted the woman, restrained her and threatened her with a knife, court documents state. His attorney, Andrew Wright of Brunswick, did not return a call Tuesday seeking comment.

The state medical examiner determined Pearson was stabbed to death. His death sent shock waves through the Scarborough community, where Pearson was a well-known figure because of his years of selling Christmas trees. Scarborough Police Chief Robert Moulton described him Sunday as “one of our founding fathers.”

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